More than 200 students, including Indian students, who were accused six years ago for cheating in a compulsory English Language Test, have sent a signed letter to the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, seeking justice.
34,000 students, most of them of Indian nationality, are believed to be involved in the cheating scandal which was linked to the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). The latter is an obligatory requirement in some student visa cases.
These students have constantly highlighted that they were unfairly accused of cheating. According to them, the government did not let them prove their innocence while their visas have been revoked, causing them long term damage due to legal costs.
“We write to you because it is within your power to right this wrong, to put an end to our detention, deportation and humiliation. Allow us to prove our innocence by establishing a free and transparent scheme – independent of the Home Office – through which we can get our cases to be reviewed and clear our names,” reads the letter delivered to PM Johnson.
In the letter, students state that COVID-19 has worsened their situation, as the networks providing funds for them have collapsed, charities have closed while families cannot support them financially because they are themselves affected by COVID-19 in financial terms.
Regarding the issue, the Director of Migrant Voice Nazek Ramadan said that deprivation of their rights and the damage that has been caused to their futures, has led to students’ mental health problems. He added that there are several proofs that students are victims of “mammoth injustice” and urged the government to not ignore this problem anymore.
At the same time, the reports conducted by UK’s National Audit Office and House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC), have questioned the decision on refusal of thousands of visas, claiming that the Home Office has used wrong evidence against the affected students.
The students’ campaign was also supported by some parliament members, among them the Labor Party MP Stephen Timms, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on TOEIC as well as by migrant voice activists.
In February 2014, the investigation of BBC “Panorama” revealed evidence of organized cheating in two English language centres operating under the Educational Testing Service (ETS).